Past Speakers

Dr. Rick Hodes, medical director, Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

Deborah Bial ’87, founder and president, The Posse Foundation

David Brooks, columnist,
The New York Times

Michael B. Oren, ambassador of Israel to the United States

Cory A. Booker, mayor,
Newark, N.J.

William Schneider '66, political commentator

Thomas Friedman '75, columnist, New York Times

El Hassan bin Talal, prince of Jordan

Margaret Marshall, chief justice, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

James D. Wolfensohn, president, World Bank 

Aharon Barak, president, Supreme Court of Israel

Ted Koppel, anchor, ABC News "Nightline"

Peter S. Lynch, vice chairman, Fidelity Investments

Geoffrey Canada


Geoffrey Canada

Honorary Degree Citation

Eleanor Roosevelt, cherished Brandeis trustee and faculty member, famously said, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” Through your extraordinary leadership of Harlem Children’s Zone, you have lit a flame that burns brightly and brought light to thousands. You have brought about enormous positive change in the lives of so many young people, who have benefited from your visionary model of interlocking social services and educational reform. Then there is the multiplier effect — those you have helped are now themselves working to create safer communities, encourage educational achievement and pave the way for others to escape poverty. Your understanding that a child’s achievement and access to the promise of equal opportunity depend on improvement of an entire ecosystem of family, community, health and school resources has changed the way our society views issues such as neighborhood violence, educational attainment, health disparities and family support. Your conviction that addressing these factors is a prerequisite to breaking the cycle of poverty provides hope and inspiration to like-minded people committed to healing the world.

As we recognize you with Brandeis University’s highest honor, we look to your leadership and life as proof that even complex problems will yield to our enduring efforts so we may create a tangible benefit in the world.